A second instructional materials bill in Florida

01.08.2018

Senate Bill 1644, introduced by Tom Lee (R-District 20) on January 5, 2018, would, if enacted, revise the procedures for adopting instructional materials to permit members of the public to recommend instructional materials for consideration by the state or their district school board, which would then be required to get in touch with the publisher of those materials and allow it to submit a bid for evaluation.

The bill is similar but not identical to House Bill 827, introduced by Bryon Donalds (R-District 80); the divergences are listed in a January 6, 2018, blog post by Florida Citizens for Science's Brandon Haught. Donalds was the main sponsor of HB 989 in 2017, which, as NCSE previously reported, was intended to make it easier for creationists and climate change deniers to pester their local school districts. HB 989 was passed and enacted in 2017.

Writing about HB 827, a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel (December 5, 2017) connected the dots: "Last session they passed a law to empower activists who want certain books out of classrooms. And now, a new bill would allow activists to suggest new books students read instead — and require school boards to solicit bids for the book, no matter how nutty it is." The result, he argued, would be a  waste of time.

In addition to HB 827 and SB 1644, House Bill 825 and Senate Bill 966, both prefiled in November 2017, are also of concern. These bills would, if enacted, require "[c]ontroversial theories and concepts ... [to] be taught in a factual, objective, and balanced manner," while allowing local school districts to use either the state science standards or alternatives "equivalent to or more rigorous than" them.